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Does being a "hard line atheist" mean you believe in an accidental universe? I have a Christian friend, a few actually, but this guy is the only one I can have a real debate with and not hold back. We often, informally, debate religion, politics and philosophy when we hang out. More often than not, our mental exercises yeild the same results, but occasionally one of us makes a new argument. This time it was my friend, who I'll call Jon, that posed the question. That question being; the opening line of this post.

I sat there on his couch last night, eating buffalo wings and drinking a beer while I ruminated on his query. I didn't have an answer to the question because the terminology seemed vague, and therefore an inadaquit premise for an argument. I offered instead, a more accurate version: Does being an anti-theist mean you must believe in an accidental universe? His point was you can't be certain the universe was an accident.

That's a pretty easy argument to beat, isn't it? I've done it time and time again while debating Jon, but this time I had to think a bit harder to satisfactorily answer the question. I had to conceit the point. The only honest answer I could give was no. Jon then went about arguing for intelligent design in his usual way, but using my answer as the crux of his argument.

Armed with this new weapon he posited that anti-theists can't disprove god because my answer created a binary option. Aha! I know this argument. Its the coin toss argument. My brain lights up as the connections between synapses are made and a thought begins to form in my mind. Now I have a legitimate rebuttle... Or do I?

As Joe presented his argument, it became more complex. How could I rectify this cognitive dissonance? The coin toss isn't quite applicable in this context because the initial question modified the parameteres. Then I found it, the gap in the armor. I was ready.

After finishing my last hot wing and swig of beer I made my case. Joe's eyes narrowed as I explained that a binary option is not created by asserting that there is no God for a myriad of reasons. Chief among them was the idea that there are other possible explanations for the origins of the big bang besides the unmoved mover argument and the accidental universe argument.

While Joe never gives up on his faith, he had to admit defeat. Joe and I learned a valuable lesson that night, well Joe learned two. He learned that eating 9 buffalo wings, three slices of hot sauce infused pizza and half a six pack of beer hurts. We both learned that being an anti-theist doesn't necessarialy mean you have to believe in an accidental universe.

jayneonacobb 7 Jan 23

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14 comments

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0

Not "accident", but rather "random". That way you move away from the mistake of anthropomorphism.

0

If the Universe came into existence in accordance with the laws of physics, it certainly was no accident. Now if it came into existence in defiance of the laws of physics, say for example it was created out of nothing, there's your accidental Universe.

1

I understand what you're saying. I also understand that occasionally some people enjoy being stubbornly semantic just to be difficult (or for shits and giggles lol). 😉

I hear ya. Asking for a definition in a debate is suicide. If the only problem someone can find with an argument is that they don't understand a word then it is they who has lost.

1

It seems as though some folks need clarification on a few things. The definition of accident is with out intent. The definition of believe is to accept as true. These are things you should either know, or can look up. I am not required to define these terms as they are basic, specific concepts that are not open to interpretation. The motion for the debate was, in simplified terms; does antiteism require the belief that our specific universe, the one we occupy, require belief in an accidental origin. We were not debating weather or not god exists. This motion does not require me to be anything, it does not define my beliefs and it does not require that I offer alternate theories. It only requires that I answer the question posed.

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Define "accident". The universe follows the rules of physics. Our CURRENT theory is the big bang. Was the big bang and 'accident'? Most likely it was a product of physical processes we don't understand at this moment in time. But not an 'accident' like he thinks.

Accidental, with out intent. Accidental does not need to be defined in the context of the debate because it is a basic, specific concept. If you don't know the definition of the work you can look it up, it's not my responsibility to define words that you don't understand. That is why "hard line atheist" was unacceptable and subsequently was replaced by antitheist. Antitheist is more accurate for the debate topic.

@jayneonacobb How do you measure 'intent' of an inanimate object? Isn't everything in space 'accidental' then? Does a planet 'intend' to orbit the sun, or is that an 'accident'?

Is your anthropomorphism intentional, or just an accident?

I would define those things as results of an accidental universe which is governed by certain laws and principals that lead to those events. In these cases they would be gravity and evolution, respectively. Intent requires intelligence.

1

I sorry @jayneonacobb, I couldn't follow your argument. What were the other explanations for the origins of the big bang you offered that weren't accidental? By "accidental" I'm assuming you mean "unconscious"?

Accidental means without intent. I'm not required to offer alternative theories to point out that they could exist. I don't know how the big bang happened, but I don't think it necessarily means that it was an accident. To answer the question though: I do know that some people have posed the notion that black holes might create singularities which lead to other big bangs.

@jayneonacobb so are you saying that you accept that the big bang may have been intentional?

I'm saying that we don't know how the big bang happened. The black hole is just one idea, there are others. Maybe someone in another universe recreated the big bang of their universe and in doing so created ours. That doesn't mean I believe either. There's no evidence for me to decide either way.

The way our universe works is consistent with the accidental universe theory. I believe this is the best theory based on the data. My argument is simply that being an antitheist doesn't bar other theories of origin. You could call me a materialist in the sense that I don't accept things as true without evidence.

I having been thinking about your statements @jayneonacobb and I am having some difficulty in untangling & reconciling them.

On the one hand you say you are anti-theist (you are overtly, consciously and deliberately opposed to theism), then on the other hand you say “There’s no evidence for me to decide either way”. That is an agnostic position. Are you atheist or agnostic?

You accept that the big bang (the origin of the universe) may have been intentional. To qualify that you say that a black hole may have caused the universe to come into existence or maybe someone in another universe recreated the big bang of their universe and in doing so created ours, but this just obfuscates the question. If the big bang is an inverse black hole then was the universe it originated in accidental or intentional? If someone in another universe recreated the big bang of their universe and in so doing created ours, then was the big bang that created their universe accidental, or did someone in another universe create that big bang? Sooner or later, to avoid reductio ad absurdum, you must arrive at the original big bang, and there the question stands.

You say “The way our universe works is consistent with the accidental universe theory”. I don’t think there is such a theory, unless you are referring to the multiverse hypothesis? You say you believe “this is the best theory based on the data”. What data are you referring to?

My question to you is; do you think it more likely that the universe came into existence as the result of an act of conscious will, or do you think it more likely there is no intent behind the universe at all?

I think you're confusing my argument with my beliefs. I am a materialist and antitheist, which means I believe that the way our universe exists is consistent with it being accidental. The data for this is how the universe works. I think you missed the point of the post.

You're right about one thing @jayneonacobb . . . I'm confused.

This is what I have learnt from our exchange;
You are a materialist and anti-theist that believes the universe is accidental because the data on how the universe works is consistent with it being accidental. But being an anti-theist doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in an accidental universe, because it might be intentional, there's no evidence for you to decide either way.

Therefore. . . . hot wings & beer!! In moderation of course, please eat responsibly.

@mrdunn The big bang is consistent with what you would expect from an accidental universe. Most of it is inhospitable to life. The second law of thermodynamics illustrates exactly what happens in a closed system. Our universe is exhibiting properties of being in a closed system. That's not what were discussing here and I think you know that. You just wanted me to lay out an argument that is irrelivent given the nature of the debate.
We're discussing weather or not, in this specific iteration of the universe that we currently occupy, an antitheist can believe in an alternative theory to the two posed by science and religion. The answer is yes. The infinant regression argument is not applicable in this instance because it is only discussing the cause of, again, this specific and current universe, which we now occupy. I literally spelled it out for you, but you just don't seem able to separate a premise for a debate and what someone actually believes. I've had to debate both sides of every issue that I discuss, it doesn't mean I believe both sides. This was an exercise in finding common ground with people you disagree with and posing new questions.

@jayneonacobb it is a non sequitur to posit that because most of the universe is inhospitable to life as we know it, therefore the universe is accidental.
The second law of thermodynamics raises some interesting questions in regard to consciousness, I think. Does consciousness require increasing or decreasing entropy in order to manifest?
For the record, I think the universe is a closed system too. Where we would differ, I think, is that I am not a materialist i.e. I think there are more dimensions to reality than just the physical one.

I think the crux of what you and your friend Jon/Joe were discussing was, can an antitheist believe in a non-accidental universe, i.e. an intended universe (deliberate, planned, purposeful)
The examples you offered in support of your answer in the affirmative merely shifted the question into parallel universes and offered no support to your assertion at all, but I think you know this. You should probably apologise to your friend and just say yes, one cannot be an antitheist and believe that there is deliberate intent behind the creation of the universe

I think your idea of a debate is to win. I don’t think you are interested in finding common ground at all. It seems you would prefer people concede to your argument and if they don’t, then they must not understand how to debate.

You need a dictionary and a class on debate. String theory allows for a multiverse. It may be possible for someone in another universe to intentionally create a universe. In which case the resulting universe would be intentionally created. You need to stop thinking in binary terms and start thinking abstractly about things. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. This theory would make an antitheist wrong in the assertion that the universe they occupy was accidental in origin. I'm not saying I believe that, I'm just not ruling it out either, which does not mean I believe it. I said that I am a materialist in the sense that I require evidence before forming an opinion, or believing someone's claim. This does not change the result of the theory. I'm sorry to tell you, you're wrong about everything you said. I think you need to work more on your critical thinking skills, and less on being critical.

I lost on that initial point, It says so in the post. I did win the overall debate. We found common ground by me helping him pose a question in a better manner. Subtext, my man. Even though I suspected that my version of his question required I conceit that point I still helped him establish a better argument. I learned something in the process and I thought it was note worthy enough to share. The real lesson I learned was to think abstractly. Once again, you miss the sub text.

@jayneonacobb concede, you concede the point. Conceit is something you might want to reflect on. Other than that, your post, like the content of your debate, lacks substance. But hey, chalk it up as a win all the same.

I know it's concede the damn auto correct keeps changing it. You're just a troll. Oh, that makes sense, you can't think correctly because you're a believer.

slow down there @jayneonacobb, just because I challenge you on the logical inconsistencies in your statements doesn't mean I'm a troll. Likewise, my theistic beliefs don't rob me of the ability to think critically. Is this the reason you like to debate with Jon/Joe? Do you feel you are intellectually superior to him? Your penchant for non sequiturs is a serious handicap in debate, you need to work on that.

Do you think Joe is intilectual inferior to me because he believes in God? See, I can troll you too.Talk about a nonsequiter. That's what trolling looks like, familiar to you, isn't it?

Your belief does rob you of critical thinking in at least one area. I just happen to think you did a wonderful job illustrating how that one illogical belief you hold can poison the rest of a person's mind.

@jayneonacobb ok. . . you're making even less sense now. Your ad hominem attack just proves you have nothing intelligent to say, so I'll say goodbye now, you may have the last word.

2

I would initially reject the term "accidental." That term is very limited in its meaning, imho, and has no validity in relation to the universe and its possible origins. Not sure what other term, specifically, would apply, but accidental just doesn't fit. How about "spontaneous"? Accidental sounds like it could have been prevented, or shouldn't have happened in the first place. Yeah, it's semantics...just saying.

Accidental means without intent. I'd say it fits the bill. Spontaneous is more of a timing issue. One can be spontaneous accidentally. I'm glad you get the premise of the story though.

ac·ci·dent
/?aks?d?nt/
noun

  1. an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.
    "he had an accident at the factory"
    synonyms: mishap, misadventure, unfortunate incident, mischance, misfortune, disaster, tragedy, catastrophe, calamity; technicalcasualty
    "an accident at work"
  2. an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.

Accidental in this case means unintentionally because it is an adjective, not a noun.
[google.com]

1

the real issue here is people like this cannot deal with not being the center of a god or universes attention. there has to be a plan or a purpose.. for it to be naturally and unplanned, seams random and chance in their head, they can't deal with that, its their indoctrinated thinking at work. the twisted thinking of a cult believer.

I agree, but he did make me define why the universe may not be purely accidental in origin. I'd never done that before. Still doesn't mean a god made everything tough.

1

Ha, now there is only the duel of the third - or the entire body left to consider - the coin constantly rolling, building, bubbling, nibbling at the swiss cheese brick of anti-matter. winks

P.s. appreciated the script as I have a 'friend' like this too - we don't get into or talk too much anymore. However, when we do get together we look at each other and kind of smirk and say:
"Wanna Loop frienemy?"

3

The Big Bang for me is the most sensible explanation for the beginning of the universe. However I don’t think anyone knows all the answers. We atheist can’t prove there are no higher powers but by the same token neither can the theist prove a higher power exist. Hell there’s no evidence for most of what’s in the bible or Koran except the bible or Koran! Religion just doesn’t make any sense. Why would anyone be condemned to suffer forever in hell for not believing in something there’s no scientific evidence even exist!

2

Accident and chance are labels we put on our ignorance. "I don't know" is the correct answer if you actually don't know. What makes me hard line is that I know the Christian god cannot exist and I need not be all knowing to know that much. And I do not cut them any slack when they claim to know shit they actually don't.

Well you only 'know' that through the fault-lines of Christianity's shit explanation of the third-self. 'Holy Spirit' was highly debated as completely the fuck asinine however there was no antithesis that carried weight - the same issue was explored in other religions as well. And as far as, if you're argument would be logic proves the perimeters of the subconscious- the brain and subconscious - the universe as simply math my rebuke would be serendipity.

However, I am terribly paraphrasing Karen Armstrong's - A History of God.

@MadHadderoll of course... nobody can give an antithesis to the undefined.

1

And what is wrong with saying "I do not know if the universe is accidental or not, I currently do not have sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion as to the origins of the universe at this time".

I also cannot accept that 'accidental' is an appropriate term for the creation of the universe either. Even if there was a connected series of events prior to the creation of this universe, how does your friend move from a connected series of events to "God did it"? He is the one making the assertion and thus he has the burden of proof.

Looking thru the Hubble pics, and the expanse of outer space, the billions of other solar systems, If not an accident, Then explain the billions of other solar systems, Even a trained Cosmologist would come to the conclusion of Random placement of solar systems. There is no order in infinitive space.

I agree on the burdon of proof. The debate was weather or not antitheist had to believe in the accidental universe theory, or if they could believe in other theories for the cause of the big bang. It was more an exercise in how to establish an argument and a lesson on how important language is in a debate.

@craftsman "If not an accident, Then explain the billions of other solar systems" is the classic argument from ignorance. 'Gee, this looks like it has been designed therefore someone designed it, therefore god'

Prove it.

@Uncorrugated I claim it is by Fluke, random chance. and not by intelligent design, If I came off as saying otherwise. I apologize.

1

I think one potential argument is that the physics of the universe or multiverse may have an intrinsic "logic" to it that precludes a chaotic universe from existing for any sustained amount of time. Order may be necessary for persistence. But, even if it were more random, even if it were an accident of sorts, I don't see a problem with that model. When there's all of eternity to play with, and countless permutations of physical properties that can pop in and out of existences, we just happen to exist where/when life of our sort is supported. I wouldn't be deterred even if we happen to live in an accidental universe.

2

The Scientist Fred Hoyle put forward in his book 'The Intelligent Universe' that there could be the real possibility of a 'creative force' that has brought forth and maintains the Cosmos. Hoyle's 'God' is definitely not a anthropomorphic 'God'. It's not a personal 'God' that cares for us. Apparently a lot of scientists who subscribe to this concept of a creator 'god' have a similar idea as Hoyle's.

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